September 2001 Archives

The concept of the mantra has had me thinking recently.

According to dictionary.com the definition of this word is:

mantra n.

  1. Hinduism. A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.
  2. A commonly repeated word or phrase: "Today's edutainment software comes shrinkwrapped in the magic mantra: "makes learning fun." (Clifford Stoll).

The modern mantra

I am not a religious person whatsoever, however I have always been fascinated with history and mythology especially in connection with religion.

I've only recently realised I have a mantra of my own. It is actually an excerpt from an old Faith No More song.

I find myself uttering the words on a regular occasion. For me it is not so much the meaning of the words (the meaning is abstract and disturbing) but the rythmic structure and phrasing of the words.

For a long time, I found these words a useful antidote when I had some pop song or jingle stuck in my head. More recently, I have learned a different approach. Now I embrace the pop song/jingle, look beyond the repetitive structure and appreciate the production values and the subtleties introduced by the session musicians. I find this approach better because I used to resent the intrusion into my personal space, this would then make me angry.

To this day, I use this mantra as a device to center my mind on a regular basis.

I also like the litany against fear from the novel Dune, although I have never used it as a Mantra.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I remain.

From a traditional perspective

Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect -- it is often carved into stones, like the one pictured above, and placed where people can see them. 

It is said that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this mantra:

Om Mani Padme Hum can not really be translated into a simple phrase or sentence. 

Likewise mantras in Hindu scriptures start with the sound of OM as an invocation to most gods begins with this syllable, the term generally occurs in every prayer. For instance we have Om Namaha Shivaya, Hari Om, Om Shanti etc. It is the combination of three words or sounds Aa(AKARA) meaning sustainer, Vu(UKARA)the protector and Ma(MAKARA) meaning the destroyer.That is the whole world is inside the sound of OM. OM is also pronounced as AUM.

Omkar or Om is a totality of all sounds that issue from the human larynx. Om is present in Christianity as 'Amen' and in Islam as 'Amin'. Interestingly, even the Islamic letter for 'Allah' if turned to its side, is quite similar to the letter Om in Devanagri script of Sanskrit .

The origin of the syllable OM is lost in the misty past. Its not being specific to any one country or civilization is indicative of its being an universally perceptible sound for the human race. This reason for this universal perceptibility possibly lies in the fact that AAAH is the most natural sound that issues from the human larynx. This is evident when a man cries out naturally in extreme pain, anger or fear. When emotions reach an extreme pitch the articulate sounds evolved by man are not the ones that are heard, but the syllable natural to man which is AAAH.

forgive me for covering my eyes

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Time to tell a bit more about me, in particular all about what interests me and that which takes up my spare time.

First of all, without music, it's unlikely I'd still be around. My tastes in music are eclectic and ever changing. A long time ago, when I was young and wanting to shock, metal was my primary musical taste. Despite long since stepping out of that limited viewpoint, I still listen to a heck of a lot of metal and this is something that will probably never change.

However, across all genres my tastes have become a lot more refined, to the point that rather than list genres and bands I like, it might be better if I take a different slant.

Music to me should be at least some of the following: Dynamic, intimate, complex, atonal, polyrhythmic, minor key, pentatonic or unusual/archaic mode, melancholic, unique, epic, minimalist, forward thinking.

I read a lot, across many genres fiction and non fiction. However the genre I derive the most pleasure from is the form of science fiction, where the canvas of tomorrow or of an alien culture is used to contrast/critique contemporary society and the issues we face. In addition to the written word, I have consumed comics at a voracious rate my entire life. Somewhere in my teens I migrated to the more adult branches of the comic publishing universe - an area where I believe works that rival the best novels have been created.

Like the proverbial chicken and the egg, I'm not sure which came first: Science Fiction in general or Dr Who. Regardless, I can't recall a time in my life when I wasn't a Who fan. Nowdays after playing a small part in oz fandom during the 90's I am content to sit on the sidelines and occasionally watch or read some Who.

Cooking has been a late discovery for me. As a child I always loved food, having somewhat of a sweet tooth. I enjoyed dabbling in cooking the occasional batch of Lamingtons or biscuits. With age, my taste buds have evolved and now I'm more of a bittersweet/chilli head. Having lived on a Vegetarian diet my entire life, learning to be a good cook meant the difference between near inedible food (as prepared by others) and the gastronomic feasts which I love to whip up. In particular breadmaking has become a distinct passion.

Growing up with accessible forests and national parks, I love a good bush walk and also love to mountain bike when time permits.

One final odd, interest is that of macrame. Sometime in my early teens I received a present of a pulsera (a knotted bracelet, also called friendship band). Together with my sister we reverse engineered the complex designs and started making our own. To this day I find macrame a relaxing and creative distraction.

Not particularly into movies or cinema; partially because of how anti-social I find the experience of watching a film can be. However there are some great films out there, a lot of my faves are from science fiction and the more intellectual manga works or otherwise in the art-house scene.

To thine ownself be true

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Hi, I'm: Alex McHugh, owner and webmaster of this domain. I've been better known as Olethros for most of the years I've spent online.

Weblogs and the culture that has evolved around them have long fascinated me and have dabbled in many weblog frameworks over the years.

Despite the ever improving search tools, the internet is still a morass of dis-organised and often incorrect/out of date info. This weblog is a constantly evolving example of the macrocosm accessible via http.

As a result of my job i'm constantly tinkering with computer harware, software HTML, web scripting etc so when I do find interesting things I may post them up here.

And now for the pre-requisite personal information: Mid-Late 20s, reside in Sydney (Australia). Work for a Telco (Optus) - Application support of OSS/Network Management systems.

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